Let me start with the odyssey of the bus trip. I got on this rickety, rattly bus, inventory #292, from a company probably as old as I am (1), which is owned by a much larger and just as old bus company (2), which has a large, monopoly-service contract to the west of Madrid. I use it constantly and I´m aware of bus drivers´ surly behavior, which I attribute to their working conditions. This driver was near retirement age, wore thick glasses and was curt enough to be a quiet ´newyorker´. I wouldn´t want to be in traffic all day, so that´s ´fine´.
We are about 12 km. from the center of town and with 15:00 Friday traffic, the ride took 50 minutes of stop-and-go-nowhere on the highway: ´Everybody-and-their-engendrances´ acts entitled to be molded into a car by themselves, creating a traffic nightmare and illegally talking on their cell phone to complain about it to another human being, who could easily be doing exactly the same thing in another traffic jam somewhere. That´s NOT fine.
It´s also not fine, that from somewhere within me came the irresistible urge to scream: "Saca el culo del coche y sácate el cerebro del culo!". Translated to English that would be "GYAOOTC and GYBOOYA". Readers, please add the equivalent in other languages.
Someday, when I grow up, I want to think ´... ooh, look at that happy family, all three generations of them, in that cute, little electric car... !´ (Damm; my antique cell phone didn´t have enough balance, nor battery, left to rant to anybody about it.)
I can tell already, I´m going to extend myself and I´ll have to break this diary into hourly tragicomedies.
I looked out the window, concentrated on studying the sky, the trees, the new greenness, .... the high walls and fences everywhere, the construction cranes above the buildings and back again to the signs of nature in spring, where I could find them. I was glad I had not eaten lunch before that magic ride.
This dear driver had the radio blaring regional music above and beyond all the bus parts banging against each other. That´s fine because regional folk music makes me want to sing and dance, although the decibel levels were enough to cause permanent hearing damage. The part that drives me nuts is the whiplash driving. You´d think that somebody in their sixties, in charge of a bus, had enough experience to smooth out the braking and accelerating to typical traffic conditions, without forcing people to hold on for dear life with both hands.... Not this one. More often than not, bus, train and subway drivers I have to ride with, are from the same rodeo school of ´transportation management´:
´Push all limits until something serious happens!´
When something happens, of course, the local and regional, rightwing administration of Madrid and their sheep will baaa-baaa-blame the socialist government, one way or another, through their friendly media.
(1) Compañia Llorente
(2) Grupo Alsa
O.N.E. 16:00 to 17:10
Walked down and around Princesa Street to find a place to eat, but those that looked decent had dishes for 21 and I kept walking. After asking a lady who was walking her dog, I stopped near the clinic, at an unknown, cheap cafeteria. Maybe, I just ´case´ the places unconsciously, but I picked the best people-watching spot and it was at the end of the bar. I found a paper to read, I got comfortable and I run into a very nice, very sociable, thirty-something waitress to help me.
I had garlic potatoes and meatballs with a glass of wine, before my coffee and it was pretty good. Garlic and wine.... that should wake up the doc, I told the waitress. The place wasn´t that busy and the waitress and I commented and nodded as I ate, then, suddenly, she decided to tell me she was leaving the job after four years because she has had it with a nasty, xenophobic supervisor. She is affable, articulate, nice looking, does her job with care, but ... she´s South American! I told her how it shames us all that there are still so many cases of racism and that I´m glad she won´t put up with it because that´s the only thing that will help stop it. Personally I´m really tired of making my life more difficult for speaking up when I hear it, but shutting up is no
At that point, a Joaquin Sabina song was playing and it goes "...with your chin very high, your tongue very long and..." so I gave her a thumbs up and she laughed. She knows she will find something equal or better, because it seems no locals even consider food service jobs: ´Market-forces´ have lowered the pay rate to be acceptable to ´immigrant-only´ levels!
O.N.E. 17:20 to 17:40 I really wish this were very odd.
The clinic is a good, old, 5-story building with marble floors, brass railing staircases, etc., that had obviously been remodeled from residences. Knowing that the regional administration wants to close it down, my heart sank because I could almost feel the presence of some salivating developer, waiting in the wings, marauding in public offices, to take it down and build another millionaire´s atrocity, in one of the best parts of town.
I sat in the waiting room and saw a flyer about the ongoing, health workers´ action, three times a day for 15 minutes, but I thought it was over because it had no date, so I put it down again.
A young woman in white called me in to the sitting, male, thirty-little endocrinologist and then she sat in silence at a desk next to his, so I thought she was an intern. After the introduction, we began the same-o, new patient questionnaire, including the back and forth about smoking and no, no, I have no-known-allergies! It seems allergies are so common now that he didn´t believe it. And, yes, I had an "80% thyroidectomy in 1976 in the states". He frowned at that. I told him that´s what the surgeon´s document said. Was I supposed to weigh an measure it?
He looked at the comparative test results I had brought, showing hypothyroidism, he repeated what they said and I started to feel that ...´The patient is crazy until the contrary is scientifically proven´ attitude. Maybe I act too comfortable with doctors; not submissive enough? I don´t know, but before I realize it I start feeling like they are parroting irrelevant stuff and not listening/answering me at all. I tell myself that kind of treatment was last century, but it´s alive and well, right where I am. I consciously put aside the gender factor may have anything to do with it, because it is truly maddening, but I had not heard it all, yet.
When he was ´done´, I asked the questions I had about things that may be related, but the doc denied the thyroid had any effect on practically anything else in my body.... Temperature changes and control? ´No´. Low energy, low mood, ....? ´No.´ Any effect on cholesterol levels? ´No.´ Female hormones, ...hair, nails.... anything? ´No. You have to go to a gyno for that´. He insisted however that I take a medium dose of a synthetic thyroid pill!!! Like.... OK, if it doesn´t affect any of my complaints.... why is there a thyroid gland at all and what´s the pill for, then??? Never mind.
This boy used the last, old, ancient, Jurassic, nuts, insane, unscienfific, irrational........ phrase that women have had to put up with since the beginning of time!!!!! That idiotic, ignorant, pompous, undeveloped being, uttered the words...: "It may be your nerves." My jaw dropped and I decided to just be quiet, looking at him and take no action! I am so ___ sick of such ´mentalities´, I didn´t even ask him "Exactly, what nerves are those?" because I would have to ask him how many men did it take to ´learn him that´, how many men has he told that absolute crap and take it from there! (Pardon me, I have to stop writing now to go punch a pillow.)
If that wasn´t enough, he became suddenly sincere with me by telling me that ´for an endocrinologist, the most boooring thiiiiiiing in the world is to treat a hypothyroidism case´!!!
Bored! The kid is bored!!! Well, excuuuuse me! I have always been told that low-thyroid people tend to be overweight, that I was skinny because my thyroid gland overproduced and yet the tests prove that I am now low on thyroid and I am obviously underweight. That didn´t cross his pretty, little mind and I was not about to question him to get another shoulder shrug. Maybe medical knowledge has ´advanced´ (flip flopped) and I would really appreciate hearing it! Forget that. He never checked my eyes, my hands, or anything else that other endos have done first thing, so I couldn´t trust it anyway. As much as I prepare my questions before a visit, most doctors leave me with more questions than when I arrive....
He finally decided to get up!, come around the desk to ´feel´ my thyroid and surprise, surprise....!: He, brilliantly deduced and said "I don´t find any gland on the right side and there is something on the left, but I don´t know how much". (Proof of my lefty tendencies.) That´s it!!!! He must deduce that I was ´lying to him´, that the gland disappeared right before his very eyes and should go right to the police to file a thryroidtheftomy in his absence of brain!
<It´s a good thing the service is free.... Free????? What do you mean FREE? We have all contributed to his ´degree´ and we all pay his salary!>
I swear! If I didn´t know there are so many people suffering in this world and much more serious problems, I could slap this know-it-all-lived-nothing until he knew how silly he really is. Do progressive doctors really exist outside electronic visuals? Does ET have any progressive MD´s? Or, can we ´order´ some, please? Maybe I should just stick to Fran, melo and others already here, who integrate study along with experience to provide some human sense.
I walked down the 3 flights of stairs slowly, enjoying the old materials and the workmanship, trying to forget that I just heard a bunch of ´doc-trine´. Like the good ´patient´ I am, I took the paper number from the red gadget on the wall and waited my turn to get dates for more expensive tests, from expensive facilities, that may be moved elsewhere by then, to give more blood, to use more public funds, to perpetuate this squirrel cage wheel that I bring to a full stop every few years. I get to the thyroidectable point where I can´t take any more wasteful services from self-entitled morons that guard their knowledge from the patient like an antiquity, and nobody should.
Got the test dates very quickly because some guy was coming around reminding the staff about ´the demonstration´. That got me excited...
O.N.E. 17:45 to 18:05
Instant socialist demonstration, just waiting for me.
This may be the real reason L*ife set me up here today, because the doc certainly wasn´t worth the trip. The health workers´ action is against the strong push for privatization of health care, which is reaching a peak in Madrid. I joined the white coats at the front door and in no time I was holding a broomstick attached to one end of a cut up bed sheet saying "Public Health". Someone brought out the most deafening, plastic whistles and we waved at the dumbfounded drivers going by. One guy traded me the flyers for the broomstick and I started giving them out to every passerby, asking very nicely "Would you like to know about it?"
A couple of people actually took me up on it and I was surprised I could give short, coherent answers on the spot, for which I thank all the ETers that have trained me so well on the ´terra of privatization´.
About 90% of participants were women in a total of 25-30 people, including 2 patients (no white coat) and if there were more than one or two doctors, I´d eat my hat. That part was disappointing, but the staff were happy while doing it and it made my day.
A young woman nobody knew was taking photos from across the street, but nobody cared, or bothered to speculate. Towards the end, the staff got brave and we walked back and forth on the painted crosswalk about five times, to stop traffic. Afterwards, I just applauded them.
O.N.E. 18:10 to 19:20
I went back to the place for an iced decaf after such hard, street work in the sun.... The same waitress asked me what the demonstration was really about and I explained how it becomes private, it costs us more and serves us less. Again, I really feel I couldn´t be so confident if I hadn´t heard it so well and so much in ET!
It was a perfect evening to walk and sense the city crowds again, so I watched people, waved at little kids and petted dogs before heading back, because the window shopping really wasn´t worth it. There is very, very little ´in the market´ that attracts me anymore and 99% of clothes shops actually repel me.
The ride back was shorter, although I was ` lucky' enough to get the same bus with the same driver!, so when I finally got off it, it felt like I had been in a pressurized cabin for a week.
O.N.E. 19:20 to sleep time
Got a load of milk and stuff, stopped by the socialist party storefront and talked to people a while before I ´climbed up the mountain´ again with the load of food, because going to the bus stop would have been sort of a half-way detour.
I got home just in time for the evening news and heard some more ´odd´ things:
A small plane with 3 people crashed in rural Ciudad Real province causing the death of a Moroccan and a Spaniard. It was planning to land on a private air field, on a ranch owned by banker Emilito Botín of Banco Santander and it just happened to be carrying 270 kg of hashish. It´s anybody´s guess.
(Hot off the presses! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emilio_Botin )
I could not look at another video of public-contracted/private-security guards´ violence in the subway, but I admit that thanks to new cell phones, we can find out and ´force´ some action.
Hey, the head of the Spanish communist party is 93-years young and he´s still smoking and making lots of sense! I bet he doesn´t listen to doctors much. (;
There was another contradictory story about sunflower oil with a health department warning to "stop using it"! Apparently there has been a/some supermarket chain selling ´to-be-disclosed-later´ brands, imported from Ukraine that contain ´some´ amount of ´mineral oils´. ¿Petroleum? Can they use it for their cars? It ended with a typical disclaimer implying a guarantee that there is ´no health risk´.
Sorry, I can´t deconstruct more nonsense from beginning to end and all around again, but please add your own.